In the Heat of the Night (film)

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In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 film about a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi.

Directed by Norman Jewison. Written by Stirling Silliphant, based on the 1965 John Ball novel.
They call me Mister Tibbs!taglines

Virgil Tibbs

  • Now listen, hear me good, Mama. Please. Don't make me have to send you to jail... There's white time in jail and there's colored time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is colored time.

Chief Gillespie

  • I got the motive which is murder and the body which is dead!


Chief Gillespie: Got a name, boy?
Tibbs: Virgil Tibbs.
Gillespie: Virgil? [Laughing] Well, I don't think we're going to have any trouble, are we, Virgil?
Tibbs: No trouble at all.
Gillespie: You can go now, Sam. [Deputy Sam Wood leaves the room] Whatcha hit him with?
Tibbs: Hit whom?
Gillespie: "Whom"? "Whom"? Well, you a Northern boy? What's a Northern boy like you doing all the way down here?
Tibbs: I was waiting for the train.
Gillespie: There ain't no trains this time in the morning.
Tibbs: Tuesdays only 4:05 to Memphis.
Gillespie: You say. [train horn blowing] Well, alright. You say right. Now, look. I try to run a nice, clean, safe town here. A town where a man can sneeze and not get his brains beat out. You follow me?
Tibbs: Yes.
Gillespie: Why don't you tell me how you killed Mr. Colbert, and I promise you you're gonna feel a whole lot better.

Tibbs: I earned that money, ten hours a day, seven days a week.
Gillespie: Colored can't earn that kind of money [a few hundred dollars], boy. Hell, that's more than I earn in a month! Now where did you earn it?!
Tibbs: Philadelphia.
Gillespie: Mississippi?
Tibbs: Pennsylvania.
Gillespie: Now just what do you do up there in little old Pennsylvania to earn that kind of money?
Tibbs: I'm a police officer.
[After checking Tibbs' wallet, Gillespie is silent for several moments; until now he didn't know his deputies had arrested a fellow law enforcement officer.]
Gillespie: Wood!
Wood: [Enters the office] Yes, sir?
Gillespie: Did you question this man before you brought him in?
Wood: No, sir.
Gillespie: Would you mind takin' a look at that?
[Wood checks Tibbs' wallet and finds his police identification. He puts the wallet back down, looking embarrassed.]
Gillespie: Yeah! Oh, YEAH! Alright, now, I'll check on this wise city boy from Philadelphia; you take 'im outside and hold 'im.
Tibbs: May I suggest you call my chief rather than send a wire or anything, I mean, it would be quicker, and I'll pay for the call.
Gillespie: You hear him? You hear him say he'll pay for the call? How much they pay you to do their police work?
Tibbs: A hundred and sixty-two dollars, and thirty-nine cents per week.
Gillespie: [Whistles] A hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week? Well, boy! Sam, you take him outside but treat him easy, because a man that makes a hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week, man, we do not want to ruffle him!

Gillespie: So, you're their number one homicide expert.
Tibbs: Yes.
Gillespie: Boy, I bet you get to look at a lot of dead bodies, don't'cha?
Tibbs: Lots.
Gillespie: Well?
Tibbs: Well, what?
Gillespie: Well, I just thought that, maybe, uh, maybe you wouldn't mind takin' a look at this one?
Tibbs: No, thanks.
Gillespie: Well, why not, expert?
Tibbs: Because I've got a train to catch!
[Tibbs goes to leave; Gillespie follows, calling after him.]
Gillespie: Now, wait a minute! That train don't leave till twelve o'clock noon! They pay you a hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week just to look at bodies- why can't you look at this one?!
Tibbs: Why don't you look at it for yourself?
Gillespie: Because I'm not an expert! Officer!

Mrs. Colbert: I came by to make it as clear as I possibly can: that I do not want the Negro officer taken off this case.
Mayor Schubert: Negro officer?
Gillespie: Yeah, well he, uh... he comes from up North, you see, and he was, uh, kinda... passing through...
Mrs. Colbert: I don't care what he is. If it wasn't for him, your impartial chief of police would still have the wrong man behind bars. I want that officer given a free hand, otherwise I will pack up my husband's engineers... and leave you... to yourselves.

Tibbs: When I examined the deceased, it was obvious that the fatal blow was struck from an angle of seventeen degrees to the right, which makes it almost certain the person who did it was right-handed.
Gillespie: So what?
Shagbag: Ol' Harv's left-handed, Chief. Everyone in town knows that.
Wood: Yeah, that's what we figured out, Chief, uh-huh, Harvey's lefty.
Gillespie: Well, you're pretty sure of yourself, ain't you, Virgil? Virgil—that's a funny name for a nigger boy that comes from Philadelphia! What do they call you up there?
Tibbs: They call me Mr. Tibbs!
Gillespie: "Mr. Tibbs"? Well Mr. Wood, take Mr. Tibbs, take him down to the depot, and I mean boy right now!
Note: The bold quote is ranked #16 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.

Endicott: Let me understand this. You two came here... to question me?
Tibbs: Well, your attitude, Mr. Endicott, your points of view, are a matter of record. Some people- well, let us say, the people who work for Mr. Colbert- might reasonably regard you as the person least likely to mourn his passing. We were just trying to clarify some of the evidence. Was Mr. Colbert ever in this greenhouse, say, last night, about midnight?
[Losing his composure, Endicott slaps Tibbs across the face. Tibbs slaps Endicott right back, visibly shocking him.]
Endicott: Gillespie?
Gillespie: Yeah.
Endicott: You saw it.
Gillespie: I saw it.
Endicott: Well, what are you gonna do about it?
Gillespie: I don't know.
Endicott: I'll remember that. [to Tibbs] There was a time... when I could've had you shot.

Mayor Schubert: Bill... what's made you change your mind about Tibbs?
Gillespie: Who says I have?
Mayor Schubert: Last Chief we had... he'd have shot Tibbs one second after he slapped Endicott, claimed self-defense.

Tibbs: I'm going home, man.
Gillespie: They're your people!
Tibbs: Not mine! Yours! You made this scene.
Gillespie: Look, you want me to beg you, is that it?
Tibbs: Look, I've had your town- up to here!
Gillespie: Boy, it would give me a world of satisfaction to horse whip you, Virgil.
Tibbs: [laughing] My father used to say that. He even did a couple of times.
Gillespie: Yeah, well, not enough to suit me! Now you listen to me. Just for once in my life I'm gonna hold my temper. I'm tellin' you you're gonna stay here. You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No. Because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame! You wanna know somethin', Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by.


  • They call me Mister Tibbs!
  • They got a murder on their hands... they don't know what to do with it.
  • They're going to pin something on that smart cop from Philadelphia... maybe a medal... maybe a murder!